Travels to Asia from Europe took on a new air of style and luxury following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the advent of the steamship. It was in this environment that four Armenian brothers, the Sarkies, established some of the world’s greatest hotels in the East, including The Raffles in Singapore and The Strand in Rangoon.
The first of their hotels however, was in Penang. It was established in 1885, and was called the Eastern and Oriental Hotel.
Over the years, an array of literary and entertainment world identities has stayed in the E&O including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Hermann Hesse.
The restaurant in the E&O is called 1885 after the year of the hotel’s establishment, and it offers a traditional afternoon tea each day.
We wandered in there after sightseeing in the morning. We were a little under-dressed compared with the ladies in silk dresses and pearls at the next table, but no one seemed to mind.
Afternoon tea consisted of tea (of course!), savory items including the de rigeur cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and beautifully-presented sweet items.